DraftBrowns.com Editor: Brendan Leister
Going into the 2012 NFL Draft, the Cleveland Browns had a huge need at the defensive tackle position. Although Phil Taylor and Ahtyba Rubin were penciled in as the starters, the team knew they had to add depth at the position so they could create a rotation. In 2011, Rubin and Taylor played the second and 16th most snaps respectively amongst all NFL defensive tackles. This high number of snaps played by Rubin and Taylor negatively attributed to the Browns’ run defense as they finished the season 30th against the run. There just wasn’t the depth at defensive tackle to give Rubin and Taylor sufficient time off the field.
Knowing all of this, on the second day and third days of the 2012 NFL Draft, former Browns’ General Manager Tom Heckert invested a third round pick in John Hughes and a sixth round pick in Billy Winn. Hughes is a stout defensive tackle that rarely gets knocked back at the point of attack. Although he is known as a run stopper, Hughes can put pressure on the quarterback from time to time because of how hard he works. Winn, on the other hand, is a very good athlete for the position and has the versatility to play up and down the defensive line. He has the strength to hold up at the point of attack and he also has the athletic ability to get after the quarterback, along with dropping into zone coverage or spying on the quarterback from time to time.
John Hughes had a solid rookie season overall, but he certainly has work to do heading into 2013. In 2012, Hughes played 530 snaps, while starting in two games. He generated three sacks and six quarterback hurries along with 23 tackles and a pass batted down. According to profootballfocus.com, Hughes’ season ranked as the 71st best amongst eligible defensive tackles. His final PFF rating was a -7.3. He finished the season with five poor games and two good games, while the rest of the games can be characterized as solid by PFF’s standards. His best game of the season was against the Dallas Cowboys in week 11. Against Dallas, Hughes played 20 out of 91 defensive snaps and produced a sack and a quarterback hurry. Hughes’ PFF rating for the game was a 3.2.
Below, you can view John Hughes’ player page as it can be found at profootballfocus.com:
The Browns seem to have gotten a steal in drafting Billy Winn in the sixth round. In 2012, Winn played 721 snaps (16th most amongst all NFL DTs), while starting in ten games. He produced twelve quarterback hurries, six hits on the quarterback, and a sack. He also added 23 tackles and a pass batted down to round out his rookie campaign. According to profootballfocus.com, Winn’s season ranked as the 54th best amongst eligible defensive tackles. His final PFF rating was a -.6. He finished the season with four poor games and three good games, while the rest of the games can be characterized as solid by PFF’s standards. Winn also showed his versatility throughout the season as he dropped into coverage 18 times and lined up as a defensive end 43 times. His best game of the season came in week 12 against the Pittsburgh Steelers. In the game, Winn started and played 32 out of 65 defensive snaps, while posting a very positive 2.4 grade in run defense along with gaining a tackle and an assist. Winn’s overall PFF rating for the game was a 3.0.
Below, you can view Billy Winn’s player page as it can be found at profootballfocus.com:
With their rookie seasons in the books, I think it is safe to conclude that the Browns found two promising defensive linemen in John Hughes and Billy Winn. With major changes to the coaching staff and the possibility of a new hybrid 3-4 defense, it will be exciting to follow each player’s development in the coming years.